Saturday, January 1, 2022

The Three D’s

Remember two years ago, when I said the 20s were going to roar? 

Well, I didn’t mean a little virus was going to roar over us.  It’s been…quite a year.  No, quite a couple of years.

I love to spend New Years’ Day reflecting on the past year—and planning the next.  As I said in Bill’s This Time Next Year challenge, the lockdowns and furloughs and protocols have worn me down, and now, I am in the worst shape of my life, physically and mentally, since college.  Everything has fallen apart, and I feel completely broken.  And I am far from alone.

Despite all of the awful, I learned some very valuable lessons in 2021.  In February, I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, finally understanding how my brain works.  I realized that all the time I have spent escaping into a dreamland was exactly what prevented me from chasing my dreams.  I wasn’t only using my dreams as an escape—I was using “self care” as an excuse to avoid the long, difficult pathway towards success. 

In these two years of ‘rona, I had forgotten what it was going to take….to live the life of my dreams.

Clearly, I need a reboot, and it starts with developing three qualities that all start with the letter D:

Determination.  Dedication.  Discipline.

Last year, I talked about the Grind, how to keep going when you’re tired or challenged or never believe you will succeed.  I had three goals, and while #blogsandcoffee has been a great success, I struggled to create a daily routine.  (Don’t even ask about the English accent.  I decided to start learning French instead.) 

The reason I failed at creating a daily routine—was that I wasn’t determined enough to be dedicated enough to have the discipline to make it happen.  I chose the instant gratification of dreams and indulgences, rather than working through the challenges from juggling so many balls in the air.

Did you know that people with OCPD struggle with multitasking?  Um, yeah.  I probably also need to learn how to say “no” more often….

Now, there are a lot of people reading this and thinking, “um, Erin, you are the most disciplined, dedicated person I know.  I mean, in high school/college/work/running you are so able to get it done.”

Well, I am…when it’s simple, like training for a marathon, or has triggered my compulsions, like writing this blog post, but once things get complicated, I can’t handle all that’s being thrown at me.  Like what we have to manage as an adult—work, home, finances, health, leisure—add in the stresses of covid, and I have lost my way. 

(I’m also really, really good at hiding my struggles.)

To succeed at this endeavor, I have to start simple, with one project I know I can do if I am determined, I am dedicated, and I am disciplined.  I need to appreciate the baby steps it will take to complete this project and do them, even when I’m tired or anxious or had a bad day.  It will be like filling a rain barrel with an eyedropper, so I have to use these three D’s to stay on track, progressing towards completion.

Once I have reached my goal with that first project, I repeat the process with another project, then another, and another, building my determination, my dedication, and my discipline with each iteration, empowering me to tackle increasingly difficult projects.

If I master these three D’s, perhaps I will have a daily routine by the end of the year, the first step towards the life of my dreams.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

This Time Next Year

The only part of the holidays I love is the change of the year.  Having a slower time to reflect on the accomplishments of the past year and set goals (never resolutions) for the new year is probably my favorite holiday tradition.  Those of you regular readers know I start the year with a blog post, and last year, one of my goals was to create a place to read and support other bloggers.  I launched #blogsandcoffee on January 1st, and after only a year, I’ve made some great connections as other bloggers have used the hashtag to promote their blogs.  (Yes, I read every blog post I promote!)  One of my “regulars” is Bill from A Silly Place, who tagged me here.  His Sunday roundup blog is a must-read, and usually I make an extra-large cup of coffee so I can read what he’s found.  Thank you, Bill, for your tag—and your positive contribution to the Twitter blogging community.

Rules, rules rules

Because these things always come with rules:

  • Thank the person who tagged you.
  • Write your goals for next year.
  • Write how you’re going to achieve these goals.
  • Tag at least five blogger friends.
  • This last one is optional, but in 365 days, write a post about whether or not you’ve been successful!

At this time next year…

If I wanted to condense my goals into one word, it would be stability.

Like many people, I was completely unprepared for a global pandemic of lockdowns and furloughs.  Ever since the world shut down back in March of 2020, I’ve felt like I’m stuck on a tilt-a-whirl, struggling to hold on against the twists and turns, the ups and downs—the uncertainty—that filled every day.

(I hate spinning rides.  I’ve lived 15 minutes from Great America for years, but haven’t visited it since 1995.)

The closest I've gotten to being inside the park...

As the days turned to weeks, weeks turned to months, and months turned to years, the whipping and the spinning had so filled my brain that even the simplest of tasks was a challenge.  My life was spinning out of control, fighting to keep it from falling completely off the rails….and lost. 

I need to find the lever, stop the ride, clear my head.  Stand on terra firma and feel normal again.

At this time next year, I see myself following a daily, regular routine.  The tasks I need to do to stay on top of things have become habits, giving my days an easy flow.  I go to bed feeling accomplished, confident that the next day will be successful, and wake up feeling rested and energized, my batteries recharged.  I have balance in my life, calming my mind, giving me the stability to work on the bigger projects, get my life together, and chase my dreams.

The details of how I’m going to do it…..will the subject of my New Years’ Day post.  (Hint:  it has to do with the letter “D.”)

Tag!  You’re it!

Rethink Entrepreneur

Tangela Williams-Spann

Amber

Headphones Thoughts

Aneesha Shewani

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The Deer Hunter

Nigel stared at the woman walking along the path.  He needed to cross the path to get to some good eats for lunch, but there was a human in the way.

His mother had taught him to be afraid of humans, that they carried the booming rods that killed many of his family, but this woman was taking forever, meandering along, staring at the thing she was holding, not even noticing him.  So many people on the path were like this woman, oblivious to these things in their hands.  Sometimes the humans talked to the things.  Sometimes the things made noises.  Sometimes the humans held them up to the sky and then put them back in their hand.

Nigel was hungry, and getting angry as the woman took forever to cross his path.  He decided it was time to push her along.  He charged, and as he got to her, she looked up, saw the deer, and started to run away, like he had done so many times when he had been surprised by a human.  He smiled and charged.

Her two legs were no match for his four, so it only took a couple of pushes of his huge rack of antlers until she collapsed, dead.  As he returned to his mission for lunch, a wave of power surged over him, the power of someone who had no fear.  He was determined to rule over the humans, and excitedly thought about his next kill.

The trail made for easy targets.  Nobody suspected the buck in the brush, watching and plotting for his next victim.  Never groups, never ones on those speeding by on those machines with the two circles, and never anyone bigger than him.  Usually, it was women, walking by themselves, the slower the better. 

While the bodies piled up, the humans were stumped.  Women, walking alone on the trail, killed by being beaten to death in the middle of the day.  There were none of the usual clues or patterns the humans needed to solve the mystery, and soon, the killings became routine.

Nigel would spot his victim and charge until they were on the ground, lifeless, then would go about his business.  When the body would be discovered by another human, Nigel would flee, pretending to be afraid of the flashing lights, the sirens, the flow of people in and out, the yellow streamers. 

Sometimes he would go over to where the big boxes with trees on top were parked, listening to the humans chatter into sticks while facing other humans with boxes on their shoulders and snaking cords everywhere.  They would gab on about the “Millennium Trail Killer,” whose motive remained a mystery as the victims grew.

Eventually, it became harder for Nigel to find victims as the humans stopped walking the trail alone.  His bloodlust unsatiated, he wandered around until he found another great trail to catch victims, even if it meant crossing those big, hard paths with the fast-moving boxes that sometimes killed deer.  Bah, he was Nigel, the Millennium Trail Killer.  Nothing could stop him…. 

One afternoon, he spotted the perfect human, and charged him to death.  High on the thrill, Nigel started the long journey home, not realizing how late it had gotten.

*****

“Another body on a new trail.  The Millennium Trail Killer must have moved.”  Jane said to Mark, her cameraman.  They were headed up to the newest crime scene for the evening news.

“Or a copycat.”  Mark replied. 

“A copycat of the perfect crime?” Jane looked at Mark as he drove.  “Doubtful.”

They rounded a curve and felt the unmistakable thud of hitting something.  Mark pulled over, getting out of the news truck to investigate.  He shouted to Jane.

“Ugh, I have to call it in.  We hit a deer.”



Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Encouraging Blogger Award

I was so honored to be nominated for the Encouraging Blogger Award by Headphonesthoughts.  Every week, Deborah posts a “Thought of the Week” that always inspires me to do my best.  If you want to be encouraged, Headphonesthoughts is one of the best places to start.  The Encouraging Blogger Award was created by Lisa Mitchell of Fluxing Well with the ‘purpose to recognize bloggers who bring encouragement’ with their blogs.

The Rules

The Encouraging Blogger Award was created to recognize any blogger who encourages others with his or her posts. Bloggers may encourage others to travel, try new things, have a positive mindset, or overcome adversity, for example. An encouraging blog may encourage other bloggers or give business tips. Many blogs are encouraging and we don’t even realize it. Bloggers nominate fellow bloggers for this award, and nominees write a post answering a few questions. After that, the nominee nominates other bloggers.

  • When and why did you start blogging?

I started blogging on MySpace about 15 years ago, when I was a traveling consultant spending 75% of the year on the road.  It was a way to pass the time.  My current iteration started when I decided to run the six major marathons in 10 years, hence “6 in 10.”

  • What is your blog about?

My blog started as a running blog to keep me accountable on my marathon training, but has morphed into surviving a global pandemic while coping with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder.  Writing became my therapy, my connection to the outside world.  I believe the power of our own uniqueness, and I’m trying to use my blog to encourage others to embrace theirs.  There is too much of a demand for conformity, especially in a country founded on freedom and choice.

  • What is one piece of advice you would give to encourage new bloggers?

Find your own voice, what makes you exceptional.  It will make you stand out in the endless myriad of blogs.

  • Which is your favorite time-saving blogging tip or scheduling tool?

Use your Notes feature on your phone to jot down ideas if you aren’t in a position to write.  I’ve always got a half-dozen or so ideas floating through my mind, so I always have something to write about.

  • What are your future goals for your blog?

It’s not a blog goal, per se, but to restructure my life so I have more time to create.  I’m just juggling too many things right now to post the amount of content I have amassing in my head.  It would also be nice to grow in readership and see my posts make the world a better place.

I nominate…

Tangela Williams-Spann

The Winter of My Discontent

Unwanted Life

Ruthiee Loves Glamour

Lose Weight With Ang

 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

The BrainStorms Award



I was honored (and a little surprised) to be nominated for the BrainStorms Award by the Middle Age Fan Club blog.  It’s a great blog about life and teaching and poetry and football—well, what we call soccer on this side of the Atlantic.  It’s my first blog award nomination, so thank you Graham!

 

Rules

  1. Thank the person who nominated you
  2. Tag your post with #BrainStormsAward and follow https://brainsstorms.wordpress.com/ if you’re willing
  3. Display the BrainStorms Award logo
  4. Display the rules on your blog
  5. Talk a bit about your blog, why you started, what you write about and your goal for your blog
  6. Answer the five questions you’ve been asked
  7. Nominate five other amazing bloggers
  8. Ask them five questions

 

About my blog…

It all started with my 40th birthday.  As we all do with milestone birthdays, I lamented all the things I dreamed I would have done by the time I reached 40.  While some, like marriage and family, were beyond my control, I thought about never having visited another country.  Then Abbott announced they were sponsoring all six of the major marathon races, creating a special award if you ran all six.  Three of them—London, Berlin, and Toyko—would mean international travel.  It was too good to be true.  I decided that running those marathons and earning the medal would be the quest to get me through my 40s, and to hold myself accountable, I would blog about my journey.

The quest started well, with a finish in Chicago (my “home” marathon), then a surprise lottery entry into Berlin and an epic New York City race in November of 2019, all while documenting the changes inside myself as I ran and trained and traveled.  I went into 2020 thinking that I was in perfect position to complete my quest by my 50th birthday…until a corona virus escaped from China and turned the entire world upside down.

As races were cancelled and everything put on hold, writing became my way to cope with the anxiety and fear I felt trying to survive this dramatically changed world.   As the months wore on, my mental health continued to decline until I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, or OCPD.  The blog that was started to keep me accountable with my marathon running had transformed into a blog to help me cope with my mental health in the midst of a raging global pandemic.

My goal for my blog at this point is to just be heard, be read, and grow a following.  The theme of my blog—exceptionalism, empathy, kindness, and acceptance—are in short supply these days, so I hope my ideas can grow and make this world a better place.

Answering Graham’s questions:

  1. Could you recommend a cheese to me and let me know why, please?  Just one?  Yikes.  (Looks north at the Wisconsin border.)  I’m going to say a tie between Munster and brick.  Munster is creamy with that fun orange casing that has this nice salty tang, and brick is just salty cheesy goodness.  Both are great when you’re melting or if you’re just eating cheese and crackers.

  2. What’s your favourite quote?  The Special Olympics motto:  Let me win.  But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.

  3. If you could have walk on music, you know for every time you enter a room or your workplace, what would it be? You can mix songs together if you want.  Eye of the Tiger.  It was my high school’s unofficial theme song, and I may or may not have fantasized about winning an election and entering a roomful of supporters while it played.

  4. Who would you get to play you in the film of your life?  Danica McKellar.  Not only do I look like her, but we both love math.

  5. What were your three favourite things about lockdown? (It’s Ok to say that there were good things about lockdown, by the way. We discovered a house with an entire miniature railway in their back garden that we’d have never known about had it not been for lockdown walks.)  I got into Twitter and discovered a wonderful, supportive, uplifting community.  Even though I haven’t traveled far from home all that much, I’ve become connected to people from all over the world.  Going through and watching the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.  I had been so busy with my life that I completely missed these movies, and amazingly, all of the spoilers as well.  It was like watching them in the theatres.  Finally, getting to know my neighbors as I would walk around our subdivision, trying to get some solace from my house, and especially all the small children who now attend our local grade school.  I may have to sidewalk chalk some times tables next week….

Five Amazing Bloggers (click on the names to read their blogs):

 Rethink Entrepreneur    @Rethinkblogger

PS Conway    @ps_conway

Classic Cinema Plus    @TheeRealPastorJ

Weird Lifestyle    @LifestyleWeird

I only take pics    @mezmerize217

These are five fun, creative bloggers who constantly put out unique content.  I hope you enjoy them as well.

Five Questions:

  1. What makes you exceptional?
  2. Where is your best spot to brainstorm?
  3. Tell me about a great idea you had that ended up being a complete flop.
  4. What would you tell the teenagers of today?
  5. What was the most important lesson you learned from high (secondary) school?